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Regal parent company Cineworld confirms it will temporarily close more than 600 theaters in the US and UK putting up to 45,000 jobs at risk after film studios delayed major releases amid pandemic

 Regal parent company Cineworld has today confirmed plans to temporarily close more than 600 theaters in the US and UK putting 45,000 jobs at risk.

The cinema chain will make the closures in both the US and the UK after big studios started to delay their major film releases - including the latest James Bond film - to wait for better audiences. 

The decision will affect around 45,000 employees in the two countries - Cineworld's two main markets, with roughly 40,000 expected to be hit in the US. 

It will shut 536 Regal theaters in the US and 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse theaters in the UK from this Thursday. 

Regal parent company Cineworld has today confirmed that it will temporarily close over 600 of its venues in both the US and the UK, putting 45,000 jobs at risk. Pictured: Shoppers walk past a Regal movie theater in Irvine, California

Regal parent company Cineworld has today confirmed that it will temporarily close over 600 of its venues in both the US and the UK, putting 45,000 jobs at risk. Pictured: Shoppers walk past a Regal movie theater in Irvine, California

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Cineworld chiefs have blamed the decision, which is expected to be a temporary measure until next year, on the postponement of big budget films in the wake of coronavirus pandemic. 

Cineworld said on Monday: 'As major US markets, mainly New York, remained closed and without guidance on reopening timing, studios have been reluctant to release their pipeline of new films.

'In turn, without these new releases, Cineworld cannot provide customers in both the US and the UK - the company's primary markets - with the breadth of strong commercial films necessary for them to consider coming back to theaters against the backdrop of Covid-19.'  

On Friday, the release of Bond film No Time To Die was delayed for the second time because of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The film was meant to hit cinemas in November, but fans will now have to wait until April 2 next year before seeing Daniel Craig's final outing in the role.

The movie joins other potential hits such as Black Widow and Wonder Woman: 1984, which have been delayed by the pandemic. 

A statement on Twitter read: 'MGM, Universal and Bond producers, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, today announced the release of NO TIME TO DIE, the 25th film in the James Bond series, will be delayed until 2 April 2021 in order to be seen by a worldwide theatrical audience.

'We understand the delay will be disappointing to our fans but we now look forward to sharing NO TIME TO DIE next year.'

The latest film in the James Bond series 'No Time To Die', which had been scheduled to debut in theaters on November 11, has now been postponed until April 2021

The latest film in the James Bond series 'No Time To Die', which had been scheduled to debut in theaters on November 11, has now been postponed until April 2021

Last week, the release of the highly-anticipated Fast and Furious sequel F9 was also delayed again, while Disney announced last month that its live-action version of Mulan instead debut on its streaming service Disney Plus instead of a theatrical release.

The new Fast and Furious meanwhile is set for release on May 28, 2021, it was announced by Universal yesterday.  

Cineworld chief executive Mooky Greidinger said: 'This is not a decision we made lightly, and we did everything in our power to support safe and sustainable reopenings in all of our markets - including meeting, and often exceeding, local health and safety guidelines in our theaters and working constructively with regulators and industry bodies to restore public confidence in our industry.

'We are especially grateful for and proud of the hard work our employees put in to adapt our theaters to the new protocols and cannot underscore enough how difficult this decision was. 

'Cineworld will continue to monitor the situation closely and will communicate any future plans to resume operations in these markets at the appropriate time, when key markets have more concrete guidance on their reopening status and, in turn, studios are able to bring their pipeline of major releases back to the big screen.' 

Cineworld today confirmed the temporary closure of its US cinemas, as well as its UK cinemas

Cineworld today confirmed the temporary closure of its US cinemas, as well as its UK cinemas

Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: 'Although the delay of the latest 007 blockbuster prompted the decision, Bond isn't the villain in this piece.

'The spread of Covid-19 around the world has been a horror movie for the industry and the fresh wave of infections is the latest instalment in what's been a devastating story for cinema chains.'

Upon reopening sites in July, social distancing measures were introduced, including such as one-way systems, perspex screens for staff, mandatory contactless payment and no more pick and mix.

However, despite reopening, Cineworld raised doubts over its ability to survive a second lockdown as it reported a £1.68bn loss for the first half of the year because of the Covid-19 crisis, as revenue slumped by 67 per cent.  

Staff took to Twitter overnight to slam the company for not telling employees about the plans before they were reported in the Sunday Times - which said in its report that it had approached Cineworld for a comment prior to publication.

One Twitter user said: 'This is going out to all my fellow Cineworld colleagues up and down the country, wishing you the best in these early hours with the news of the closures.

'Been with Cineworld for 12 years, to find out I've not got a job via Twitter; once again; is damn appalling.'

Another, whose husband works for Cineworld, said: 'Just checking Twitter before bed ... oh looks like we just found out via Twitter that my husbands place of work is closing, thanks for telling your employees Cineworld, finding out on Twitter as usual.

'I guess we'll wait to hear from them at some point in the future.'  

A group on Twitter named the Cineworld Action Group also took to the social media site to comment on the reports. 


A Cineworld staff member, who did not want to be named, said they feel 'betrayed'.

The employee said: 'None of us have been told a single thing yet, so me and my work colleagues are sort of in panic mode right now, wondering what's going to happen to our jobs, especially this close to Christmas.' 

Alongside the closure plans, bosses of Cineworld Group PLC are reportedly preparing to write to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and culture minister Oliver Dowden to say the industry has become 'unviable'.

Alongside the closure plans, bosses of Cineworld Group PLC are reportedly preparing to write to culture minister Oliver Dowden (pictured)
Cineworld chiefs will also reportedly write to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to say the industry has become 'unviable'

Alongside the closure plans, bosses of Cineworld Group PLC are reportedly preparing to write to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and culture minister Oliver Dowden to say the industry has become 'unviable'


Cineworld will look to reopen next year in line with the big blockbuster releases, according to the reports, which suggest many of the company's staff will be offered redundancy, with possible incentives to rejoin when cinemas reopen.

Union Bectu, which represents staff in the cinema sector in the UK, urged filmmakers to think 'carefully' about the impact delayed releases could have on the industry.

A spokesperson said: 'The delay in the release of the Bond film, along with the other delayed releases, has plunged cinema into crisis.'

Bectu boss Philippa Childs said: 'If these reports are true, then the first people Cineworld should be informing are their staff who will suffer as a result - not the Sunday newspapers.

'Whilst cinemas have been able to open since July, and the experience of those who have visited since then has been an overwhelmingly positive one, the stark reality is that without new releases it is unlikely that footfall will increase to a level that makes opening financially viable.' 

British Film Institute (BFI) chief executive Ben Roberts raised similar concerns about the prospects of the industry as a whole, but emphasised 'great reasons to visit your local cinema - as distributors continue to offer new independent films to audiences'.

His call to get customers back into seats was echoed by the Government, which promised a package of more than £1.5billion to help the arts and culture industries recover from the pandemic in July.

A spokesman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: 'The Government is supporting cinemas through the VAT cut on tickets and concessions, business rates holiday and bounce-back loans.

'Independent cinemas are also eligible for a share of £30 million from our unprecedented £1.5 billion culture recovery fund, and funding has started to be allocated already.

'Cinemas up and down the country are open for business and Covid secure.

'We urge the British public to support their local cinema and save jobs by visiting and enjoying a film in accordance with the guidance.'

The reports are another knock-back for the UK cinema industry, which took a profit hit when the country was plunged into lockdown in March following the outbreak of coronavirus. 

The cinema chain, which is the largest in the UK and second largest in the world behind Chinese firm Wanda Cinemas, posted pre-tax loss for the six months to June compares with profits of £110m a year earlier.

Issues were further compounded by a short supply of big blockbusters throughout the summer.

Christopher Nolan's spy-thriller Tenet set to be one of the highlights.

However industry experts have reportedly been 'spooked' by the film's lacklustre performance on the big screen, causing other major studios to postpone their major releases.

This includes the latest in the James Bond series 'No Time To Die', which had been scheduled to debut in theaters on November 11.

But it will now be delayed 'in order for it to be seen by a worldwide theatrical audience', the film's producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli announced this week.

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